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How We Get to the End (because we’re not there yet)

TIPS FROM A COVID-19 CASE INVESTIGATOR

By LINDSEY FENNER

Now that COVID vaccines are much more easily available in Minnesota, we have reached what is perhaps the hardest part of this enormous vaccination task: reaching the folks who waited or haven’t quite made up their minds or still have questions. And as much information as any government public health official can send out in the world, YOU can make a difference by having conversations with loved ones about getting vaccinated. These conversations might be difficult. And it will likely take more than one conversation. But this is how we get to the end of the pandemic. 

Some tips for having these difficult yet crucial discussions

  • Listen with empathy and without judgement: These vaccines are new. There is so much information and misinformation about them, it can be overwhelming. It is understandable that people have questions or anxiety about getting their shot. Give folks space to talk it out. 
  • Ask open-ended questions: This helps keep the conversation going, and helps you understand what your friend or relative is concerned about. 
  • Share information and resources (but ask permission first): There are many good informational resources about the vaccine. Just try not to SPAM them with information!
  • Help them find their reason why: People who get vaccinated do it for different reasons. You could share why you got vaccinated to help them think about it, or talk about what you both could do together once everyone is vaccinated.
  • Remove barriers: Sometimes people just need a little logistical support, like help finding an appointment or vaccination event, transportation to the vaccination site, help with caregiving if they have side effects, or just someone familiar to accompany them at the appointment.

We need  to acknowledge that there are so many structural reasons that have prevented people from getting vaccinated, like lack of access to healthcare, paid time off, or transportation; undocumented status; the legacy of white supremacy in the healthcare and public health systems. Just as we know that folks of color are more likely to get COVID-19, we also know that white folks are more likely to be vaccinated. Although we see efforts by local public health agencies and the Minnesota Department of Health to do better, there is so much work that still needs to be done. As we get through this pandemic, we need to make sure that the glaring inequities we saw never happen again.

Vaccine Resources:

State of MN: Make an appointment through the Vaccine Connector at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program locations:

https://mn.gov/vaccineconnector.

Vaccine Hotline: 833-431-2053, Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. & Sat, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Hennepin County Navigator Line: Call the COVID-19 navigator line with questions or for help registering for a vaccine appointment

We want to ensure that everyone, including people with language or technology barriers, can get their COVID-19 vaccine questions answered and sign up for a vaccine appointment. Call the Hennepin County COVID-19 navigator line at 612-348-8900. Help is available in English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.

Español: Queremos asegurarnos de que todos, incluyendo las personas que la barrera es el idioma o la tecnología, puedan obtener respuestas a sus preguntas sobre la vacuna COVID-19 y puedan inscribirse para una cita para recibir la vacuna. Llame al 612-348-8900 para obtener ayuda en inglés, español, somalí y hmong.

Soomaali: Waxaan doonaynaa in aan hubino in qof kasta, marka lagu daro dadka dhibaatadu ka haysato luqada iyo tiknoolojigu, ay heli karaan jawaabaha su’aalohooda talaalada COVID-19 ayna isu diiwaan gelin karaan balanta talaalka. Wac 612-348-8900 si aad u heshid caawimaad luqdaha English, Spanish, Somali, iyo Hmong.

Hmoob: Peb xav kom txhua leej txhia tus nrog rau cov tsis paub lus zoo, los sis, tsis paub txog kev mus siv saum huab cua, uas yuav txais tau tej lus nug thiab tej lus teb txog koob tshuaj tiv thaiv tus kabmob COVID-19 thiab sau npe teem caij txhaj koob tshuaj. Yog xav tau kev pab hais ua lus Askiv, Spanish, Somali, los sis Hmoob, hu rau tus xov tooj 612-348-8900.

Lindsey has been working a pandemic reassignment with local public health for over a year. Like many of us, soon she will be getting back to “normal by going back to working in the library. If she remembers how.

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